FOUR RIDES TODAY: Cyril Small boots home a local winner in this Northern Star file photo.
FOUR RIDES TODAY: Cyril Small boots home a local winner in this Northern Star file photo.

SMALL LOOMS LARGE

C SMALL. It is a six-letter story repeated four times over on Lismore's race card today. C Small Cyril Small, the jockey who went from bush track obscurity to Group 1 fame and back again. The name has appeared in Northern Rivers race books for more than 30 years since he rode his first winner as a 15-year-old aboard the Briney Allen-trained Wunderbar at Casino in 1974. "I've been riding horses since before I could walk," Small said. "I categorise myself as a horseman first and a jockey second. "It's a dying trade, horsemanship. There are good young jockeys around but most of them are not horsemen. Some of them have never sat on a horse before they start their apprenticeships. "I understand horses. I've always loved riding horses. I enjoy the challenge of working out unruly horses and getting the best out of them to work out the horses that no-one else can get going." Vo Rogue is a prime example a promising two-year-old that lost by 11 lengths on the Gold Coast in its first race. Nine starts and minimal success later, trainer Vic Rail sent Vo Rouge to Melbourne to race against the best three-year-olds in the country.

Jockeys David Tootell, Brian York and John Scorse could not get him home. Small was called in and on March 9, 1987, the partnership of Small and Vo Rouge won their first Flemington start by eight lengths. A legend was born. Small went on to ride Vo Rouge to Group 1 wins in three States. He rode him in 62 of his final 63 starts. "I rode him to 22 of his 26 wins," Small said. "He was the best horse I've ridden. "He had great determination to win but he didn't look like he'd get to the heights he did." Over the years, Small has ridden about 1000 winners at tracks all over Australia. "It doesn't matter if it's Flemington or the bush," he said. "There was a time when I won at Moonee Valley and two days later I was racing in Kilcoy. "I ride wherever the racing takes me. If there were four or five good rides in the country, I'd go there rather than have one mediocre ride in the city." Small now bases himself on the Gold Coast where he rides trackwork six days a week and usually just races on Saturdays.

Small rides Argyle Gem, Wattle Street, Bonny Ray and Racer's Rocket in Lismore today. AAP



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